Bruce Bochy heads down the stairs that lead from the clubhouse to the dugout, greeting each player he passes along the way.
Whether friendly during a winning streak or firm after a tough loss, the Giants have come to rely on one thing when it comes to their manager: Boch, as they call him, has their best interests at heart.
Yet this year tested Bochy like no other in nearly two decades on the top dugout step.
While he is closing in on joining an exclusive club of 22 other managers to win at least two World Series championships, even Bochy will acknowledge he never saw this special October run coming.
Two years after winning the title, the Giants are on the verge of another after beating Detroit 2-0 in Game 3 for a 3-0 series lead.
“You’ve worked hard to get here so enjoy it, savor it,” he said.
Bochy is quick to point out that it’s his players who deserve all the credit. Yet there’s no denying his astute decision-making again this month, from every pitching change, pinch hitter and double-switch.
From moving two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum into the bullpen to giving Barry Zito a second chance after the pitcher was left off the roster for all three postseason rounds in 2010.
He also helped make the decision to stick with the players who brought the club this far, rather than adding Melky Cabrera to the mix for the NL Championship Series and risk ruining chemistry with a player coming off a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test.
“Hopefully you work at it and you get better with each year,” Bochy said. “It’s like a player. I don’t think you ever arrive as a player, I don’t think you ever do as a manager.”
Bochy made all the right moves in 2010, and he has been equally as spot on this October — albeit under far more challenging circumstances.
He lost All-Star closer Brian Wilson to a season-ending elbow injury way back in April. Slugger Pablo Sandoval, the Game 1 World Series star with a three-homer performance, spent two stints on the disabled list and dealt with a sexual assault investigation.
Then there was Cabrera’s 50-game suspension Aug. 15, followed by the announcement Sept. 27 that the club would not be bringing him back.
His team charged on, unfazed by any of it. Outwardly, at least.
Bochy’s mellow demeanor is a large part the reason why.
“He’s a terrific manager,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We all have to handle things during the course of the year, and I think he handled the Melky Cabrera thing as well as anybody could have possibly handled it. … He runs a good ship.”
“I think they know who’s in charge,” Leyland added. “He knows exactly what he’s doing.”